Souk Al Hima Atelier was established in the village of Qoleileh through the support of SPNL and its partners, including the municipality of Qoleileh, and UN Women Fund for Gender Equality. The atelier will act as a major workshop location where women can meet together to produce their different authentic artisans and crafts.
A total of 32 women were trained in Qoleileh Mansouri on different skills. Trainings were conducted by a designer on product making and design.
Over almost 15 two-hour sessions were conducted, the women had the following training:
- Bracelet making using threads: learning different techniques using a number of threads varying between 4 and 16.
- Paper beads accessories: learning how to make paper beads of different sizes and shapes then make various types of accessories.
- Glass painting technique: using stippling technique on used glass containers (glasses, small jars, trays, plates…)
- Stenciling on both paper and cloths: this technique was applied on tote bags and the designs were numerous and suitable for all ages.
- Seashells items (including sessions about using the drill): products included accessories, decorated trays and glass jars, tote bags.
- Dough making accessories.
- Coloring techniques: including color theory, painting techniques, display and finalization of products.
- Carving skills on wood and rock: using the drill.
- Up cycling using plastic: coffee and potato chips bags were used to make purses and wallets.
- Wiring, cutting and bending skills with the metal thread, gluing techniques, working with feathers, painting on rocks with paint and ink, spraying, differentiation of production, finalizing the art piece.
- Cloth decoration session: using pieces of old clothes to make numerous items likes bags, coasters, hot pot holder, trays…
It is worth mentioning that both paper beads accessories and clothing accessories were among the most successful products as the customers appreciated the precision used in the techniques and the fact that the raw material costs nothing.
Zahira Saleh, also known as “Em Fadlallah”, is the only remaining woman in the village of Qoleileh who still uses old clothes and fabrics to transform them into decorative items. This traditional skill existed previously in many villages in the area, however, with time, people lost interest in preserving it until it was totally lost. Thus, Zahira was chosen to train the women on this skill that she still mastered.
After the training sessions were completed, Zahira asked if she could join the group of women who were already undergoing trainings as part of the UNW project and continue the rest of the trainings with them. Even though the trainings on skills had already been done and the women had learned 10 different skills (paper beads, bottle caps, bracelets, drawing on glass, stencil…), Zahira was still able to learn on her own all those skills with the help of some women in the group. She showed passion and interest to acquire new skills that would add to her already existing ones. She felt that this would further help her in designing new products. She was never satisfied with what she already knew, but expressed her high abilities for learning:
“I used to do lots of items from the clothes just to pass the time, but when I joined the project with SPNL, I realized that these items can be marketable and would be a source of income for me and my family. Moreover, the trainings that are being given throughout the project not only benefit us financially, but also help us raise our voices through empowering us women to be active members in the society.”
In addition, during the business trainings with Al-Majmoua, and after seeing Zahira’s work and enthusiasm, the trainer asked her if she could train women in other surrounding villages in cooperation with Al Majmouaa. This is an important indicator that the UNW project gave the participants the opportunity to benefit from their skills and find jobs to support them financially.
Moreover, her passion to learn and create didn’t stop here. Today, Zahira spends lots of time learning new skills on her own from videos she watches online and applies what she has learned by coming up with new innovative items. Furthermore, she expressed her willingness to continue in what she does by saying, “I am willing to teach young women in the village everything I know because it is important to preserve this skill. I would also like to thank SPNL and the UN Fund for Gender Equality for giving me this golden opportunity to revive old traditional skills, acquire new skills, and market my products.”
The UNW project had a great impact on the women both socially and economically where direct changes were perceived. Socially, women were more involved in management of the Hima site as members of the local committee and their voices were more heard as the important role of women in society was highlighted throughout the project to the municipality, local community and the women. Economically, the women are making basic income through producing and selling items in different markets and events.